SCIENTIFIC CURIOSITY: BUILDING UPON EARTH DAY AND MARCH FOR SCIENCE
This past Saturday the world celebrated Earth Day. Each year since 1970, the United States has designated April 22nd to be Earth Day, a day to celebrate and participate in events to show support for environmental protection. In 2017, Earth Day has grown to appropriately be celebrated in countries all around the globe. Of course, taking one single day out of the calendar to acknowledge the importance and fragility of our planet is only a starting point. There are countless ways in which citizens of the world can help maintain a healthier Earth. For passionate young people, however, this celebration of science could end of being a life-changing event.
The State of Science
This year, April 22nd also marked the March for Science demonstrations. Interest and curiosity in the sciences is low amongst students in their earliest years of schooling even when compared to other subjects. Science is usually taught as a generic subject in elementary school and a generic class in middle school. Because of this structure, students don’t settle on any specific branch of science long enough for them to become truly interested in. Truthfully, many passionate science-oriented young people develop a love of science outside of the classroom. The lack of emphasis on science in American schools all these years may be the reason so many are skeptical or outright ignore the facts that scientists present to us. This problem has gotten so bad that the scientific community felt that they needed their own nationwide March.
The state of scientific learning may sound dire but improvements have begun to be made in recent years. Of course, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education continues to become more popular in both private and public schools. These programs are starting at earlier grade levels in many cases. Furthermore, libraries and other institutions in the community, such as Ally Learning, also have STEM programs geared toward young students receiving a more evolved scientific education. Additionally, high school students have access to more science-related courses than ever before. Earth Science, Astronomy, and Environmental Science are commonly made available as this level of learning. These are steps in the right direction. However, educators can only do so much to influence students to take a greater interest in scientific subject matter. Fortunately, there are plenty of other resources available outside of school.
The Student Scientist
In previous posts, we have discussed subjects such as reading, current events, and libraries. These topics are relevant when concerned with aggressively learning about science. The reason literacy is so vital in any person’s education is because it is required to understand every other subject (even math and science). Like other grade school text books, scientific text books only touch on the broadest aspect of any respective field (Note: College courses probably require further reading beyond the standard textbook for this very reason). Of course, science-related books tend to be on the costly end which is why the library is a useful resource in this regard. Libraries also carry various periodicals, some of them science related. New data is being gathered and the scientific landscape is always changing. Reading about what is currently being discovered can grab a young person’s attention more readily than reading an old dusty hardcover book.
For those just looking to learn a little bit more on certain subjects, DVDs and other video platforms are also helpful sources. Libraries carry documentaries on various scientific subjects. Many of these documentaries may have been produced as part of PBS’s NOVA and Nature series. These programs usually air on Wednesday nights on the local PBS station. For those who subscribe to Netflix (The Ten-Part “Cosmos” series is a personal favorite) or other streaming sites, documentaries can also be found there.
Finally, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the greatest resource to learn about science is the Internet. Most of the resources listed above can be accessed via the Internet. Additionally, with the advent of the “Smart Phone” there are now apps for almost every subject imaginable. We know that these devices are mostly used for social purposes but that doesn’t mean they can’t also be educational tools. Ally Learning has and will continue to find and share which apps we find most appropriate and useful for our students. Finally, Smart Phones can warrant the name.
Respect the Facts
Science and mathematics do not come easily for many students out there. They are difficult fields and a lot of work is needed to master any career or job that implements deep knowledge with these subjects. However, for those of us that don’t truly understand everything science tells us, we still must respect the work and findings that the community provides us. The work that scientists do is not for their own personal gain. They are attempting to find answers to the most difficult questions posed to humans. The least we as citizens of the world could do is acknowledge the evidence and treat a fact as a fact. If we learn to do that, then maybe an Earth Day and a March for Science won’t be necessary in the future.
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